Saturday, December 16, 2017

Bad Words

The CDC is barred from using these seven words in their budget documents: evidence-based, science-based, vulnerable, entitlement, diversity, transgender, fetus. The reason being that Trump would not like seeing these words.

Did Hitler also bar the use of certain words?

Results of Climate Change

The Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society has recently published analyses of 27 extreme weather events in 2016. The conclusion: human-caused climate change was a “significant driver” for 21 of them. 

The NY Times looked at five of these events in some detail:

1. Record temperatures around the world
2. Coral bleaching in the Great Barrier Reef
3. Drought in Africa
4. Wildfires in North America
5. The warm “blob” in the Pacific Ocean

The Times does acknowledge that climate change may not be the sole cause of these events. 
Temperature records are the simplest to link to climate change. But droughts — which are influenced by a complex interplay of temperature, precipitation and soil moisture — can be trickier to connect to warming trends. And hurricanes are more difficult still, because they occur so rarely.

Special Ops around the world

Our Special Operations forces, including Navy SEALs and Army Green Berets, are in 149 countries around the world. That’s about 75% of the nations on the planet and represents a jump from the 138 countries that saw such deployments in 2016 under the Obama administration. It’s also a jump of nearly 150% from the last days of George W. Bush’s White House. This record-setting number of deployments comes as American commandos are battling a plethora of terror groups in quasi-wars that stretch from Africa and the Middle East to Asia.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Driving in India

Net Neutrality is Good for You

Break the law as a pedestrian...

...and you could lose your license to drive a car. That's what happened to about half of the 2,000 people who received pedestrian tickets in Duval County, Florida, from 2012 to 2016. For whatever reason they did not pay the $65 fine for violating pedestrian laws. Ergo, they lost their driver’s licenses or their ability to obtain one.

There is a hint of racism as 55 percent of the tickets given in recent years went to blacks despite the fact that they make up only 29 percent of the city’s population. Blacks were similarly overrepresented in the 932 tickets that led to license suspensions — 54 percent.

The Bigger Liar

The NY Times has compared the number of lies told by Obama and Trump. They appear to have tried to be factual in that they have listed all of the lies they attribute to each. They also claim: 
We applied the same conservative standard to Obama and Trump, counting only demonstrably and substantially false statements.
This article counts only distinct falsehoods for both Trump and Obama.
We left out any statement that could be plausibly defended even if many people would disagree with the president's interpretation. We also left out modest quantitative errors, such as Trump's frequent imprecision with numbers.
Their conclusion:
In his first 10 months, Trump told nearly six times as many falsehoods as Obama did during his entire presidency, 103 vs 18.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Wasting Food

We waste a lot, tons and tons. In the world we throw out about 1.3 billion tons of food a year, or a third of all the food that we grow. In poor countries waste occurs on the farm or on the way to market; lack of refrigeration being the culprit. In wealthy countries we are the main cause - We buy too much food. We don’t finish our plates.About 40 percent of wasted food is thrown out by consumers.

We in the United States waste more than $160 billion in food a year.


Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Nature 2017

What are we doing about Russian hacking?

Black mothers are more likely to die....

...than white mothers, particularly from pregnancy- or childbirth-related causes. In a national study of five medical complications that are common causes of maternal death and injury, black women were two to three times more likely to die than white women who had the same condition. In New York City it's especially bad; black mothers are 12 times more likely to die than white mothers. And it's gotten worse; in 2001-2005, their risk of death was seven times higher. They are dying at about the same rate as women in countries such as Mexico and Uzbekistan, the World Health Organization estimates.

It doesn't seem to matter whether the women are well-off or not. One study of  years of data found that black, college-educated mothers who gave birth in local hospitals were more likely to suffer severe complications of pregnancy or childbirth than white women who never graduated from high school.

Why is this happening? There are many reasons. Black women are more likely to be uninsured outside of pregnancy, when Medicaid kicks in, and thus more likely to start prenatal care later and to lose coverage in the postpartum period. They are more likely to have chronic conditions such as obesity, diabetes and hypertension that make having a baby more dangerous. The hospitals where they give birth are often the products of historical segregation, lower in quality than those where white mothers deliver, with significantly higher rates of life-threatening complications.

Is this another form of discrimination? In a survey conducted this year by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, 33 percent of black women said that they personally had been discriminated against because of their race when going to a doctor or health clinic, and 21 percent said they have avoided going to a doctor or seeking health care out of concern they would be racially discriminated against.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Eliminating Student Loans

We know quite well that student loans are a big drain on the economy.

A few schools are starting to do something about it. They are replacing all student loans in their undergraduate financial aid packages with scholarships. The three schools doing this are Yale, Princeton and Brown.

Boston 2017

The Boston Globe has begun a new Spotlight series - Racism in Boston. First startling fact: Using data from the Federal Reserve of Boston, Spotlight found that non-immigrant African-Americans in the Boston area had a median net worth of $8. White households in Boston, on the other hand, average a net worth of $247,500, or nearly 31,000 times more than African-American Bostonians.

The Catholic Church and Alcohol

Okay, Holy Communion requires bread and wine. So, the priests made sure it was available wherever they lived. The Franciscans brought vines to California in 1779 and began making wine, which had never been made before in America. They did the same thing in Argentina, Chile and Australia. But there is more than wine.

Dom Perignon is the name of a Benedictine monk who apparently knew how to make champagne. You can still get a good glass of beer in Trappist monasteries around the world. Whiskey was invented by medieval Irish monks. Chartreuse was perfected by the Carthusian order almost 300 years ago. Bénédictine may have been invented by an Italian Benedictine in the 1500s. And the cherry brandy known as Maraska liqueur was created by Dominican apothecaries in the early 16th century.